Sunday, June 05, 2005

I Really Like Portland

I can't seem to get my ass up and out of Portland. It's just too relaxing and I might wind up moving here if I don't watch myself. The city's vibe is friendly (much more so than Seattle), there's lots of cool things to look at and you couldn't ask for better vistas. These are all summary judgments, of course, but it's been awhile since I fell this hard for an American city.

On Saturday, Trish and Noah took me for a leisurely stroll down Alberta Street. We started off with a hearty breakfast and about five cups of drip coffee for me at Helser's. Then we window shopped our way through vintage shops and record stores. Trish bought a $1 copy of Aretha Franklin's Sparkle, an overlooked 1976 soundtrack album produced by Curtis Mayfield.

My hosts sated me like a king with a mixed grill of fish and sausage and a bottle of red wine for dinner. Then we tried to watch the Jerry Seinfeld documentary, Comedian, but the rented DVD was all gunked up and we missed several scenes. Or that might have just been my brain checking out on me after all the wine, tuna and an alarmingly phallic chocolate-covered frozen banana. Somehow, I successfully resisted the urge to take an obscene snapshot with it.

I slept like a log in the attic guest room and woke up early to the sound of gentle rain on the roof. The chill in the air was mitigated by the knowledge that it's probably 90 degrees with 100% humidity back home. We decided to hit Hawthorne Street, yet another enclave of eccentric commerce, this one slightly more gentrified than Alberta. Then we went to Powell's City of Books, the world's largest bookstore. The main Powell's is an entire city block and they have several other specialty bookstores nearby. I could easily spend a whole day there.

The plan right now is to head east out of town toward Multnomah Falls and Hood River before turning back in a southwestwardly direction toward the coast. I may get on I-5 to make some time, or I may wind up just staying somewhere near Hood River for the night. It's supposed to get down into the 30s in the mountains tonight, though, so I'm not entirely set on that idea. We'll just see how far I get, and when the body says stop, I'll stop.


Kim said...

Portland is indeed awesome, but, in my friend's words, it's "wiggety white." Or maybe we just never went to the right neighborhoods.

Anonymous said...

I visited Portland on a business trip a few years ago and also dug it a lot.

However, I agree with Kim about it being uncomfortably white (at least for someone raised in Texas). Plus a very nice and helpful lady at the tourist center told me the only thing she doesn't like about Portland is the "crippling" (her word, not mine) income tax - both state and city.

I thought about moving there not long after the visit. But the above (plus high rents - not any higher than in Austin, but too high when coupled with the income taxes) put the kibosh on that idea.

Powell's was indeed awesome, as were a couple of record stores I hit. I walked everywhere and had no problem, though I'm told the public transportation is also very good.


Greg said...

The "wiggedy white" syndrome seems to be endemic to a lot of outwardly progressive cities, including Austin. I didn't feel Portland was any worse that Austin in that respect, but my friends live in a traditionally African American neighborhood that is "emerging" in the same manner as East 11th St. Whether that means any black people will be left there in 10-20 years is anybody's guess. After all, Clarksville was once a black neighborhood.

As for income taxes, I'm sure that's a back breaker. While rent isn't much worse than Austin, housing prices are WAAY higher.

jennifer said...

I feel that the world has tragically been denied an opportunity to see Greg pose suggestively with a chocolate-covered banana.

What about OUR needs Greg?